Friday, January 15, 2016

Do you give half stars? Here's why I don't.


Before blogging I only rated books on Goodreads. And since Goodreads only allows whole stars, I never really thought about half stars. Sure I occasionally struggled with rating a book, but I was really only rating books for my own reference, so I could remember what I read and what I liked.

Now that I blog, I post my reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble after the review goes live on this site. All three rating systems only allow whole stars, so I've made it a policy to only give out whole stars here on my blog. I don't want to deal with adjusting ratings, and here's why.

It's not just as simple as always rounding a half star up to the next whole star rating.

Let's look at the books I've read so far in 2016.


I gave 4 stars to The Things We KeepEverything I Never Told You, and The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, but these books were on different levels in my mind.

If I did give out half stars, I would have rated these books as follows:

The Things We Keep                           4.5 stars
Everything I Never Told You              3.5 stars
The Anatomical Shape of a Heart      4.0 stars

Why did both 4.5 and 3.5 end up as 4 stars?

Because in my mind a 4.5 star book can never be a 5 star book. To me, a 5 star book is flawless. The perfect book for me. And a 4.5 star rating implies that I did find something wrong with the book. That some small element didn't work for me. In The Things We Keep it was some elements of the ending.

As a general rule I do tend to let other half star ratings round up when I settle on my final star count for my reviews. I am OK with this inconsistency.

I don't often run into the issue of half stars, so I'd rather interesting that it happened with 2 of the 4 books I've read so far this year. Usually I have a star rating in mind soon after starting a book, and I am comfortable with that rating right up to the end. But when I do encounter books where I cannot decide on a rating, I often wish that I did give out half stars.


Do you give out half stars? How do you convert those ratings to whole stars for Goodreads or other sites? Am I the only one who rounds down 4.5 star ratings?

12 comments:

  1. I am a half star supporter :) I need them for my indecisive self. I *wish* Goodreads would add them. But since they don't I just add it into the words of the review. I round based on feeling I guess. I agree it is easier to not have half stars since all the other places don't as well.

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    1. I've thought about putting my actual rating in the body of the review, and I have mentioned my struggle on the blog for a couple of books. If Goodreads adds half stars, then I'd likely change too.

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  2. I do give half stars, but it annoys me so much that GR doesn't allow it. On GR I round up, just to be nice, I guess, but I put the actual rating in the body of the GR review, if that makes sense.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  3. I don't do too many half stars, but I understand the dilemma! I would also round down on a 4.5. My main issue right now is trying to clearly define what it means for me to give out a two, a three, a four, etc. I think GR defines two stars as "it was okay" and three as "I liked it," but I think there's more to it for me ;)

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    1. Yay! Glad I'm not the only one who thinks 4.5 should round down to 4. Here's my explanation of all the ratings: http://www.momsradius.com/2015/05/my-book-review-rating-system.html

      I needed to write this when I started blogging, so I had some more logic for myself as well. It's hard! :)

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  4. Ha - this is why I don't do stars at all. I would be okay with having no 4.5 star books but I have more issues with books in the 3-4 star range. To me, 3 stars seems like an average book, like a "C" in the world of grades, and sometimes that seems too harsh and I'd like to do 3.5. To me there's not a huge difference between a 4 and a 4.5 but there is a huge difference between a 3 and a 3.5 and a 4. And rounding up a 3.5 to a 4 seems too much of a jump for me. But I can see that's illogical and maybe that's just me....
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. No. I understand completely. I have a hard time making a 3.5 star book a 3, so I give it a 4. In my mind 3 stars is kind of a "bad" review. That means I wouldn't recommend it to people, but I probably would with a 3.5 star book. It's all so hard! :) I like when people assign some rating though because it helps me gauge whether I should read the book. I usually won't read a book unless another reviewer gave it 3.5 or higher (unless it was a book already on my radar of course).

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  5. I'm okay with the inconsistency too. On Goodreads, I'll round up or down with my stars depending on which side it leans on. A 3.5 star book could have 3 stars or 4 stars, depending on if the OVERALL feeling after the book is more positive or more negative. I do sometimes use 5 stars on Goodreads for books that aren't perfect. Some 4.5 star books, for me, are so good that I just can't help it. I have a "favorites" shelf to keep track of the best of the best.

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    1. Good info. Thanks, Lauren. We all have our own crazy systems. I love it!

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  6. I have to think of it in terms of the words and then the whole stars are plenty. 5 = LOVED 4 = REALLY LIKED (but not quite loved) 3 = LIKED. HAVE FEW THOUGHTS ABOUT IT. 2 = DIDN'T REALLY LIKE, BUT OTHERS MIGHT 1 = HATED IT!!!!!! ALL THE RAGE!!!!

    The end result is that a 3 star review is more positive a review than it appears at a glance. It's almost like having no opinion - it was just fine.

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    1. That's a good way to look at it. 3 stars for me is kind meh as well. I think where half stars become an issue for me is when I think the first half of the book is one star rating and then the second half is another. Like in Everything I Never Told You, it was 3 stars for a long time, but then I got into it, and 3 stars didn't seem like enough, but 4 stars seemed like too many. I'm sure I'm over complicating it. :)

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